BREAKING NEWS: Insourcing here at Barnet Council!

Last night I attended a Council meeting which was discussing whether to bring back the privatised Parking Service. The inevitable vote was to keep the service in the hands of the private sector despite a valiant attempt by the Barnet Labour councillors for a full business case including an in house option.

Imagine my surprise then delight to hear that another outsourced service is to return to Barnet.

I refer to the Barnet’s Registration and Nationality Service which was outsourced to the London Borough of Brent.

On Monday 11 December 2017 Brent Council Cabinet Committee meeting agreed to end the agreement with Barnet Council which will lead to service being brought back into direct control of the Council.

I know at the time many were incredulous at the decision to outsource this service in 2014, but at the time there seemed to be a race to outsource everything.

Barnet UNISON is pleased with this decision and will be involved in the staff transfer at some time in the not too distant future.

This decision follows another staff transfer of social workers from The Barnet Group back into the Council in December 2017. Earlier this week we heard news of another group of staff transferring from NHS into Family Services.

Barnet UNISON will continue to campaign for all of our members in-house and outsourced.

Barnet Parking Service in-house option rejected in consultant’s report.

“It is a well-accepted industry fact that without careful management, the CEO workforce in any Borough, whether in-house or outsourced, will not always be as productive as desired with a corresponding impact on the issuing of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).” Oaklawn Consulting Limited report to Barnet Council, Environment Committee, 11 January, 2018). http://bit.ly/2mi1Z3R

This is the outrageous statement made by the latest in a long line of outsourcing consultancy companies that have earned literally millions of Barnet tax-payers’ money over the last decade as a result of the Council’s ideological obsession with outsourcing services.

Barnet UNISON campaigned vociferously to oppose the outsourcing of the Parking Service. We argued that a well-run in-house service was more than able to deliver a quality service and it had done previously until the agenda changed and outsourcing became the only game in town. Good operational managers were not appreciated and the Council became reliant on interim consultants who presided over the demise of in- house services.

The Parking Service, once a well-run service, suffered as a result of a series of poor managers and became a soft target for the outsourcing ideologues in Barnet.

However, the Parking Service in its final year, still believed that it could turn itself around and I was informed back then that they managed almost 165k PCNs (Penalty Charge Notices) which is quite incredible considering the last three months of that period morale was at rock bottom after they learnt the hard work was for nothing.

This completely demolishes the comment made by the consultant and it is an insult to local authority managers who demonstrated they knew how to run Parking Services.

Barnet UNISON has had to trawl through hundreds of pro-outsourcing reports over the last decade all trotting out the same mantra. We had hoped that the obsession with outsourcing was wavering but this report demonstrates that is not the case.

NSL took over the Parking Service in May 2012, yet there has been no evidence provided that they have been able to secure the same level of PCNs in the last five years.

Waste of money

In light of the cuts to funding it seems incomprehensible that the Council should commission a report on the merits of an in-house bid when senior officers have already begun the procurement process.

What was the purpose of the consultant’s report?

If the report was commissioned for genuine reasons then surely that means the procurement could have been undermined if it recommended a return of the Parking service in-house?

If that is the case then why begin procurement?

Why waste money on procurement?

If you want to know what is going to be discussed you can view the reports on Parking Service here

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s44235/Parking%20Enforcement%20Contract%20Re-commissioning.pdf

#BringParkingBackInHouse

 

Press release: Barnet UNISON say no to instruction to send out understaffed crews for Bin workers.

On Wednesday 10 January 2018, Barnet UNISON was at a routine set of meetings at the depot when we were informed by management that the Council will not cover staff absence with an agency worker. This means that crews will be instructed to go out on their waste refuse rounds with a person down.

The street cleansing service workforce (staffed by workers who for example sweep the streets) has already been but by 19% after a recent Barnet Council decision. Now some of the waste and recycling crews have been questioning if the decision to send them out understaffed is part of anticipated cutbacks. To add to our concerns for the health and wellbeing of our workforce we can confirm there have been no risk assessments produced as a result of this management instruction which in our view places an unacceptable health and safety risk to all of our members.

Our members will know from listening to the news that the RMT union has been conducting a number of strikes across the country in relation to safety. For Barnet UNISON workers safety is no less an issue. They also know that the Birmingham Bin workers took strike action over attacks to staffing levels.

John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON: “I want to make it clear to all our members that their health and safety is paramount to Barnet UNISON and that we do not agree with this management instruction. This proposal lies at the door of austerity politics and a view that you can simply keep on cutting with no thought to the safety of the staff having to deliver a service. Our members may not be doctors or nurses or teachers but without them our streets would quickly become toxic and unsafe. I urge senior management to rescind this instruction, allow our members to continue to deliver this vital frontline service unhindered by any further threats to their safety and remind Barnet Council our members “are not the rubbish they collect.”

End.

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

 

Staring into the face of Armageddon

On 16 December 2014 Barnet Council voted for the second wave of mass outsourcing which if implemented would result on the Council workforce reduce to less than 300 staff.

At the same time Northampton County Council announced that they would do the same.

Our branch had by this time been fighting Barnet Councils mass outsourcing ideology for over six years.

Our branch was exhausted, our reps who fought in the first wave of outsourcing simply had enough.

Our branch took a decision that we would try to rally our members build more reps and give it a go.

What was there to lose?

2015 was a critical moment in our history.

The Council came for the trade union facility time, they wanted to reduce it to zero.

Then the outsourcing projects began to gather pace.

We made a simple decision to organise and fightback.

Barnet Unison Picket lines in July 2015.

Two things happened that happened that shaped our future.

Jeremy Corbyn turned up at our picket line outside NLBP, after this Jeremy never looked back and later became the Leader of the Labour Party.

Lastly, Mill Hill depot workers joined UNISON en masse.

It was a proud moment watching workers refuse to cross our picket line and sign up to join UNISON.

The rest as they say is history, more strikes, protests followed.

In May 2017, Street Scene the last service at risk of outsourcing was kept in-house.

Back in December 2014 we were facing an impossible fight, but after much hard work our members and services are still in-house.

As Bob Crow used to say

“If you fight you won’t always win. But if you don’t fight you will always lose.”

2018 promises to be another test for our members and our union, whatever happens I know we have the team, the members to take on whatever is coming our way.

Solidarity greeting to all of our Barnet UNISON members and a Happy New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: Barnet Council Gritting Service

First things first, the Gritting service is provided directly by Barnet Council.

It has not been outsourced.

However there have been changes to the Gritting service since Re (Capita) were given a contract that included the Highways Services.

If you go to Barnet Council Winter maintenance web page you will see the contact details for Re, view here https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/parking-roads-and-pavements/Roads-and-Pavements/Winter-Maintenance.html

The implications of trying to run services with multiple partners, each of whom will have their own agendas, was probably not discussed thoroughly by those councillors who rubber stamped the outsourcing of key environmental services to Capita.

I know it wasn’t discussed because I attended every single council committee meeting for years, desperate to see some semblance of scrutiny. What I witnessed, was no scrutiny of claims in favour of outsourcing made by senior council officers, long since gone from the Council.

No accountability.

Back to the Gritting service.

The Gritting service prior to privatisation made their own decision as to when they went out to grit roads, now they have to be instructed by Re (Capita).

It is really important to note that fact.

What happened on Sunday 10 December 2017?

I am writing this post in defence of our members who carry out this service.

There has been a great deal of anger from Barnet residents about the lack of gritting that led to the chaos on the streets of Barnet.

I just want to make it clear if my members in the Gritting service had been asked to go out, they would have gone out.

The question that must be asked is why were they were not asked.

I have asked and I am still waiting…….

Harrow depot

Many residents are blissfully unaware that Barnet Council sold Mill Hill depot (in the exact centre of the borough) without securing a suitable location for a new depot. This has resulted in services being scatted over a number fo sites. In the case of the Gritting service, it was moved to Harrow. This means they have to drive from Harrow and drive into Barnet to begin the routes, then drive back to Harrow to pick up more grit.

The workforce can’t believe councillors could make such a decision and neither can Barnet UNISON.

Bring the Parking Service back in-house – Barnet UNISON

On Thursday 11 January 2018, from 6 pm at Hendon Town Hall the Environment Committee are considering a report written by a consultant as to whether the Parking contract should be brought back in-house or whether the Council should waste more public money putting the contract out to tender,

You can view the agenda item on the work programme for the Environment Committee here

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s43104/Work%20Programme.pdf

Barnet UNISON issued “For A Better, Fairer, Democratically Accountable Barnet.” Policy statement.

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/10/06/for-a-better-fairer-democratically-accountable-barnet/

Our policy statement states: “work towards bringing services already outsourced back in-house including NSL.”

Barnet UNISON believes the Parking Service should be delivered in-house.

We are lobbying all politicians to vote for the in-house service.

Barnet UNISON will be attending the Environment Committee meeting and are asking our NSL UNISON members to join us at Hendon Town Hall 6 pm Thursday 11 January 2018.

Environment Committee starts 6.30 pm.

BREAKING NEWS: Barnet UNISON motion: More money for our members

This branch notes that in 2016 we had 2570 members at the year end.

This branch notes that in 2016 UNISON received total subscriptions of £365,691.

This branch notes that in 2016 of the £365,691 received by UNISON head office we received £95,147.

This represents 26% of the total income provided by our members.

In 2017 our branch carried out a consultation on branch funding.

92.86% of members voted for a change to our current funding arrangement.

Our branch notes that our national union recorded surpluses of approximately £10million and £3million in the 2015 and 2016 accounts respectively, and holds reserves of over £200million.

Our branch has been fighting Barnet Councils ideological obsession with outsourcing for over a decade.

Our branch represents members working for 189 employers (as per WARMS on 24th November 2017).

Our branch receives no resources to represent a significant number of our members working in the private and voluntary sector.

Our branch believes it is wrong to take members’ money if our branch is not able to provide basic support and representation.

Our branch notes that National Pay bargaining has continued to fail our members.

Our branch notes that it is simply unacceptable to expect our members to wait and hope for a change in government in order to end the public sector pay freeze.

We want our branch to be able to use all of our resources for the many not the few.

The fact remains that the overwhelming bulk of this work is done in our branch.

It is our view that the current funding formula for our branch is out of date and does not effectively support our members who are paying their subscriptions.

Our branch proposes

  1. That branches receive all of our members’ subscriptions, without any deductions, into their respective UNISON branch bank accounts.
  2. UNISON branches will commit to purchasing support services from UNISON Regional, UNISON National or a third party to demonstrate value for money to our members.
  3. For this motion to be presented at the Regional Council AGM 2018 and if it is successfully voted on at the AGM for it to be considered as a regional motion at National Delegate Conference (NDC).

4. For this motion to be presented at Barnet UNISON’s AGM for consideration and if successfully voted on, for it to be a branch motion going through to NDC.

Level Two Teaching Assistant (TA) miss out on a possible 6% pay rise: read on

Frustration does not suffice to explain how I am feeling at the news that of the 604 workers balloted by Barnet Council only 243 voted.

The total ballot figures for the two Level 2 TA posts are as follows:

Staff in Favour            233

Staff voting against    10

Staff did not vote        361

It is important to understand this was not a strike ballot called by the Trade Unions.

It was a TA schools grading group appeal carried out by Barnet Council.

Group appeals are for posts in where there are multiple workers in the same job role.

Because there is a potential for the grade to go down, all post holders get a vote on whether to go ahead with a vote.

In June this year Nursery nurses working in Barnet faced similar challenge, delivered a mass YES vote in the ballot. It is a fact that 80% of Barnet Council Nursery Nurses are in Barnet UNISON. This meant when we campaigned for the YES vote, members worked with the branch to ensure all Nursery Nurses voted YES.

GOOD NEWS: Nursery Nurse Grading Appeal success

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/05/22/good-news-nursery-nurse-grading-appeal-success/

What went wrong this time?

Barnet UNISON does not have a high percentage of TAs in Barnet Council Primary schools, we estimate less than 15%.

This means that without a trade union making the case to vote YES all TAs have now missed out on the opportunity of a 6-7% pay rise.

What can we do?

It is important that Barnet UNISON has details of every single Barnet UNISON TA who may have a 3.4% pay cut on 1 April 2018.

If you are at risk of a 3.4% cut on 1 April 2018, please contact (with all your details) the Barnet UNISON branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Best wishes

John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Barnet UNISON issues warning to members about the Pension Service provided by Capita.

Barnet UNISON Press Release: Friday 1 December 2017

“The final straw for me was when I was sent copies of letters issued on London Borough of Hounslow letterheads with London Borough of Hounslow email contact details to our members by Capita Pension Service in response to their own Barnet Pensions queries. Barnet UNISON has been monitoring an ongoing catalogue of serious errors made by the Capita Pensions Service operating out of Darlington. Not only am I unhappy with Capita, but also with the Council, which agreed this outsourcing model. This fragmented model, where you have two pay roll departments running out of Belfast and Carlisle and Pensions running out of Darlington was agreed by senior Barnet Council Officers in 2012. They have long gone and left us with a service in which we have no confidence. Our Pension, is our members’ single biggest financial saving for their future. It is also their deferred earnings. The Pension service our members’ are having to endure is unacceptable. My concern is that there is an “Emperor’s New Clothes” culture in our Council. No criticism is tolerated, well Barnet UNISON will not stay silent the service needs to be brought back in-house.”  John Burgess Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary 


 

We advise all Barnet UNISON members who are in the

Local Government Pensions Scheme

to read this Press release and take up our offer below.

 


1.  Please find a brief explanation of the serious issues we have found over the past two years

  • 2015 Annual Benefit Statements not sent to all by statutory deadline
  • 2016 Annual Benefit Statements not sent to all by statutory deadline
  • 2015 Annual Benefit Statements not all correct – CARE benefit incorrectly based on taxable pay rather than pensionable pay
  • 2016 Annual Benefit Statements not all correct – CARE benefit incorrectly based on taxable pay rather than pensionable pay
  • 2017 Annual Benefit Statements not all accurate – missing previous LGPS membership, more than one statement, CARE benefit based on part pensionable pay
  • Barnet Pension communicated on another local authority’s letterhead showing two different e-mail addresses for communication with them
  • Insufficient details provided for pension calculations to check accuracy

2. What HAS Barnet UNISON done so far?

  • Raised issues at meetings with Chief Executive in December 2016, January 2017 and September 2017
  • Asked LBB to inform breaches to the Pensions Regulator
  • Issues raised at Local Pension Board meetings
  • Issues raised at regular monthly meetings with Council officers and Capita Pensions staff.

3. What YOU can do

End.

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

Below are a few links of the post transfer consultations with Capita which resulted in wholesale cuts to the local workforce.

1. The Pensions Regulator fines Barnet Council for failing to submit pension documentation

https://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/issues/july-online-2017/pensions-regulator-fines-barnet-council-failing-submit-pension-documentation/

2. Capita consultation on proposed sacking of Barnet Council Pension workforce as jobs move to Darlington (2013).

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/Pensions%20consultation%20document%20final%20v1%20071013.pdf

3. Barnet UNISON Press Release: “From hard working families to ‘scroungers’ – Capita redundancies

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2013/10/06/barnet-unison-press-release-from-hard-working-families-to-scroungers-capita-redundancies/

4. THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES

“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

“Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?” said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, “He hasn’t anything on. A child says he hasn’t anything on.”

“But he hasn’t got anything on!” the whole town cried out at last.

http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html

 

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